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Posts Tagged ‘Pernicious anemia and b12’

Pernicious Anemia- What’s your Risk?

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013



The risk for pernicious anemia from vitamin B12 deficiency is highest among the elderly, but a significant number of people begin to notice the first symptoms in their 30s, contrary to popular belief. Listed below are some common symptoms of pernicious anemia and explanations regarding your risk for developing pernicious anemia in middle age.

Pernicious Anemia- What’s your Risk?

What is pernicious anemia?

Pernicious anemia is the final stage of vitamin B12 deficiency. Pernicious anemia used to be fatal until scientists figured out that death could be easily prevented by feeding patients high concentrations of Vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 deficiency causes many debilitating health problems, including chronic fatigue, lethargy, weakness, memory loss and neurological and psychiatric problems – long before pernicious anemia sets in.  These symptoms can be quite misleading, leading to incorrect diagnoses.

What is Pernicious Anemia?

Stages of vitamin B12 deficiency

There are four stages to a Vitamin B12 deficiency that end in pernicious anemia:

  • Stage 1: Slowly declining blood levels of vitamin B12
  • Stage 2: Low cellular concentrations of vitamin B12
  • Stage 3: Increased homocysteine levels in the blood, and a decreased rate of DNA synthesis
  • Stage 4: Pernicious anemia

Illnesses that mimic pernicious anemia

Illnesses and other health conditions sometimes confused with vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Alzheimer’s dementia, cognitive decline and memory loss, collectively referred to as “aging”
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) and other neurological disorders
  • Mental illness (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychosis)
  • Learning or developmental disorders in children
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Autoimmune disease and immune dysregulation (unregulated immune response)
  • Male and female infertility

These diseases produce signs and symptoms that also occur with vitamin B12 deficiency – but are rarely diagnosed as such!

Pernicious anemia risk categories

The following groups are at greatest risk for vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia:

  • Anybody with a family history for autoimmune disorders or pernicious anemia
  • Vegetarians and vegans
  • People aged 60 or over
  • GERD patients using PPIs or acid suppressing drugs
  • Diabetics using drugs like metformin
  • Patients of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac or IBS
  • Women with a history of infertility and miscarriage

Vegetarians and Vegans take note: Vitamin B12 is found ONLY in animal products! To prevent pernicious anemia, it is absolutely essential that you supplement with high doses of vitamin B12.

Treating pernicious anemia

If you think you might have a vitamin B12 deficiency or pernicious anemia, you should pursue blood testing immediately. If you are vitamin B12 deficient, then the next step would be to identify the source of the deficiency.

Once the source of vitamin B12 deficiency is identified, you can then begin vitamin B12 supplementation. The many, long-term or permanent vitamin B12 supplementation is required in order to prevent a relapse of symptoms.

Your turn!

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

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Like this? Read more:

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Vitamin B12 Deficiency is Type of Anemia: True or False?

Image courtesy of Ambro/freedigitalphotos

Pernicious Anemia and B12 Deficiency- Historically Fatal, Still Formidable

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012



Vitamin B12 deficiency, Addison-Biermer’s anemia- Pernicious anemia (PA) has been called many things.  Though we have a cure in vitamin B12 supplements, symptoms of pernicious anemia remain similar to historical descriptions of this once fatal disease.


“Starvation in the midst of plenty”

In 1849, if a doctor diagnosed you with pernicious anemia, he would have told you to say your prayers.  That’s because back then, the survival rate was 1-3 years.  Many scientists tried various experiments to find out what caused this fatal disease, which was as dreaded as leukemia is today, causing symptoms like tiredness, painful tingling in the arms and legs, muscular weakness, and finally, death.

Pernicious Anemia: Your 13 Most Frequently Asked Questions, Answered!

Anybody care for a shot of liver juice?

PERNICIOUS ANEMIA AND B12 DEFICIENCY- HISTORICALLY FATAL, STILL FORMIDABLE, B12PATCH.COMFinally, Dr. William B. Castle made an important scientific breakthrough.  He conducted an experiment that involved feeding regurgitated raw hamburger meat to patients of pernicious anemia, and discovered the presence of intrinsic factor, an essential chemical found in gastric juices that is lacking in pernicious anemia patients.  Like many medical discoveries, the next one that occurred somewhat by accident.  In trying to find a cure for anemia resulting from blood loss, Dr. George Whipple produced the first cure for pernicious anemia- raw liver. Later, in 1926, scientists developed a more concentrated antidote based on the same therapy- raw liver juice, to be swallowed or injected.

Juvenile Vitamin B12 Deficiency- the Dinosaur of all Disorders, say Scientists

Vitamin B12 is born

It wasn’t until two decades later that scientists finally discovered the potent ingredient in raw liver juice. In 1948, two chemists from the US and Britain isolated cobalamin as the health-giving nutrient, and named it vitamin B12.  For patients of pernicious anemia, dosages of 1000 to 4000 mcg, prescribed daily, were given orally as vitamin B12 pills or through intramuscular injection, as a vitamin B12 shot. Another method of supplementing vitamin B12 are sublingual B12 tablets.


Painful Tingling in Hands and Feet- What’s Up with That?

Pernicious anemia symptoms

Scientists today understand that pernicious anemia is a form of megaloblastic anemia, resulting from weakened DNA synthesis in red blood cells.  People with pernicious anemia suffer from an autoimmune condition that inhibits your body’s ability to produce intrinsic factor, thus resulting in vitamin B12 deficiency.  Rarely does pernicious anemia ever result in death, since doctors today know how to diagnose the symptoms early on, and confirm diagnosis with a vitamin B12 blood test. Still, many of the symptoms of pernicious anemia are disabling, and often confused with other conditions like clinical depression, thyroid disorder, and diabetes.

Typical symptoms of pernicious anemia are:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Pale complexion
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of concentration
  • Shortness of breath while exercising
  • Painful tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
  • Sore, red swollen tongue
  • Bleeding gums
  • Altered taste perception
  • Depression
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Frequent stumbling
  • Clumsiness

Read more about pernicious anemia and B12:

Vitamin B12 Deficiency- 4 Causes, 1 Solution

Top Ten Signs of a Vitamin B12 Deficiency

What is vitamin B12, and why is it so important?


William B. Castle

Pernicious anemia

Images, from top:

HikingArtist.com, Frank Muckenheim, Mario Caruso, genericlook

B12 Deficiency and Pernicious anemia

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Pernicious anemia (also known as Biermer’s anemia, Addison’s anemia, or Addison-Biermer anemia) is a form of megaloblastic anemia which occurs due to a vitamin B12 deficiency. It is most often caused by impaired absorption of vitamin B12 in the GI tract due to the absence of intrinsic factor in the setting of atrophic gastritis, and more specifically of loss of gastric parietal cells. Future posts will fully describe and explain exactly the functions of these processes.

The name of the disease comes from the historical fact that early sufferers were always properly diagnosed after they were classified as anemic (had low blood hemoglobin levels). However, with more modern tests which specifically target B12 absorption, the disease may properly be diagnosed before patients actually become anemic. An individual with this illness will have to supplement his/her B-12 for the rest of their lives or risk the onslaught of extremely unpleasant symptoms. Most commonly the cause for impaired binding of vitamin B12 by intrinsic factor is autoimmune atrophic gastritis, in which the person’s own antibodies are directed against certain cells, resulting in their death, as well as against the intrinsic factor itself, rendering it unable to bind vitamin B-12.

Sometimes the loss of the GI cells may simply due to a weakening digestive system, such as that frequently occurring in elderly people affected and Helicobacter pylori infection. Note that forms of vitamin B12 deficiency other than pernicious anemia must be considered as a B12 deficiency can cause megaloblastic anemia, which is easily mistaken for classical pernicious anemia, The deficiency may also be caused by infection with a tapeworm, possibly due to the parasite’s competition for vitamin B12

The treatment of Pernicious Anemia varies from country to country and from area to area, but there is yet no cure. Cobalamin (one of the forms of B-12) is usually injected and is given every month in some countries and every three months in others. The single most common cause of complaint by members of the Pernicious Anemia Society is that patients needs vary and some patients need more frequent injections than others.

Patients who are needle-phobic, or patients who are unable to receive injections for another reason can be prescribed cyanocobalmin tablets in very high doses, which means that some of the B12 is absorbed in other places in the bowel other than the terminal ileum where B12 absorption usually takes place. The efficacy of using B12 tablets to treat pernicious anemia (by definition due to atrophic gastritis) is likely not to be sufficient, as the body will have trouble absorbing it as it does from food.

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